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The role of UIIN in the Valorisation of Social Sciences and Humanities

Elena Galán-Muros

At UIIN, our work is underpinned by research. With 15 large-scale research initiatives currently running across various topics in the field of university-industry collaboration, we are excited to share our insights with you in our research projects blog series. Today, we are pleased to share news about the REVALORISE+ project and the training programmes UIIN and partners are developing to create a new generation of SSH valorisation champions, who are empowered and enabled to use their research to impact society.  

Institutions of higher learning have increasingly begun to acknowledge the importance of creating broader societal impact from academic research. As a result, the outputs of research are slowly being viewed beyond the creation of publications and commercial products alone.

However, despite this acknowledgement, barriers to creating this impact exist, and higher education institutions often have a lack of incentives for academics to create impact as well as limited support for those academics who are interested in creating impact from their research.

When considering this production of societal impact from research, we use the term, “valorisation”. A complex concept, since valorisation cannot be defined as one specific outcome or impact. The term has been used to describe many different activities and has been used as a synonym or overlapping concept for topics such as third mission [1], university-business collaboration [2], commercialisation [3] and academic entrepreneurship [[4]]. Thus, in this article we will consider valorisation to include activities carried out by academics with the aim of making research findings accessible beyond academia, in order to create significant, observable impact.

Overall, a lack of awareness amongst academics about valorisation activities, especially beyond research commercialisation alone, results in researchers not actively creating societal impact from their work. Also, when considering valorisation activities, disciplines such as the Social Sciences and Humanities are often overlooked. Emphasis has traditionally been placed on valorisation in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) subjects, as the outputs of STEM research allow for the use of quantitative performance and outcome indicators that can be easily measured.

The valorisation of Social Sciences and Humanities research may manifest in many forms, from policy advice to workshops and training programmes produced. It may therefore occur through numerous pathways, of which many may not easily be measured and thus require qualitative indicators to determine their impact.

Raising Awareness and Developing Capacity around Valorisation
Through the REVALORISE+ project, UIIN aims to raise awareness about the importance of valorisation. Therefore, in collaboration with trusted partners, UIIN is supporting valorisation through the development of the REVALORISE+ training programmes. The development of these training programmes is based on research conducted into the skills needed for Social Sciences and Humanities researchers to be able to undertake valorisation activities, as well as the gaps in existing valorisation training programmes. Over 400 stakeholders in Social Sciences and Humanities contributed to this research, giving their insights into the barriers, opportunities, supporting mechanisms and resource needs that affect researchers who want to create impact from their work.

The first training programme looks to inform a new generation of impactful Social Sciences and Humanities researchers and will develop their valorisation capabilities and networking skills. The programme will cover topics such as valorisation, entrepreneurship, collaboration with external partners and knowledge transfer. A second training opportunity, The Professional Support Programme, will address the valorisation needs of university and intermediary professional staff; enabling them to map assets within their university, analyse their external environment to scout for opportunities and training them to support research staff in the valorisation of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Both programmes will be pilot-tested over the coming months at five universities across Europe: University of Applied Sciences Amsterdam (NL), University of Copenhagen (DK), University Carlos III de Madrid (ES), University of Vienna (AT), and Institut Mines-Télécom Business School (FR).

The development of these training programmes will create new support mechanisms and opportunities for researchers to create impact beyond academia and allow them to put their new knowledge and skills into practice.

Interested in learning more about UIIN research projects and training programmes? Take a look at our Research page or follow the UIIN and REVALORISE+ LinkedIn channels to stay updated on the latest project news.

Authored by Catherine Hayward, Research Officer at UIIN.

[1] Sánchez-Barrioluengo, M., & Benneworth, P. (2019). Is the entrepreneurial university also regionally engaged? Analysing theinfluence of university’s structural configuration on third mission performance. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 141, 206-218.

[2] Orazbayeva, B., Plewa, C., Davey, T., & Muros, V. G. (2019). The future of University-Business Cooperation: research and practice priorities. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 54, 67-80.

[3] Hayden, M. C., Weiß, M., Pechriggl, A., & Wutti, D. (2018). Insights Into University Knowledge Transfer in the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and Other Scientific Disciplines–More Similarities Than Differences. Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics, 3, 32.

[4] Muhonen, R., Benneworth, P., &Olmos-Peñuela, J. (2020). From productive interactions to impact pathways: Understanding the key dimensions in developing SSH research societal impact. Research Evaluation, 29(1), 34-47.

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